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Funeral Services Begin Today for Victims of Texas School Shooting; Officials: Students Called 911 Multiple Times from Classroom While "As many as 19" Local & Federal Officers Waited in Hallway; DOJ to Investigate Police Response to Uvalde School Shooting; Biden Responds "We will" when Demonstrations call for him to "Do Something" on Guns after Shooting; President Biden Lays Wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 30, 2022 - 12:00   ET




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to a special edition of "Inside Politics". I'm Phil Mattingly in Washington. John King is off today.

It is Memorial Day and any moment over the course of the next hour, we are expecting President Biden to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. He would be accompanied by the Vice President Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of together they will honor the fallen service members who have died serving the United States of America.

And the backdrop of course of a country paying tribute is a country in mourning. 19 children, two teachers killed in Texas the deadliest school shooting since Newtown, families students an entire community seized by the visceral pain of an unthinkable tragedy. Now funeral services begin today for victims of the school shooting in Uvalde.

Uvalde's funeral homes are so overwhelmed. It will take weeks to bury all 21 victims. And now the Justice Department has announced it will review law enforcement's in response to that mass shooting. And we want to start in Uvalde with CNN's Adrienne Broaddus who's on the ground there. And Adrienne the funeral services are starting today for to 10 year old victims. Tell us more about them and what you're seeing on the ground right now.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll start with the victims. We are learning so much about them. We've learned Amerie Jo Garza had a heart of gold. Her father said she always tried to protect her brother and now he knows she died trying to save her classmates.

She used the cell phone she received for her 10th birthday earlier this month to call 911. There's a photo of her paired with her obituary which is online and she's wearing a beautiful violet dress. But her family says their sweet, loving funny and sassy little diva dresses, but she loved meals from - and her favorite drink was from Starbucks her drink of choice the vanilla bean Frappuccino, which by the way doesn't have coffee.

Her classmate, Maite Rodriguez also had a favorite drink from Starbucks. Hers wasn't a Frappuccino, but it was the mango dragon. Maite's mother said her daughter was competitive, especially when it came to physical education. And she was ambitious.

Already she knew she wanted to become as a fourth grader, a marine biologist, and she had her eyes set on going to college to study that. She was an honor roll student. And not only was she competitive and ambitious, but she was a self-starter. She learned how to sell all by herself her mom says with the help of YouTube University.

Both of these families have been wrapped in love. We've seen a legion of support. Here at the Town Square behind me you see folks have gathered there placing balloons, stuffed animals and flowers on the memorial. We've even seen people at least over the last two days show up at this site before sunrise.

And amid the grief there's so much beauty when you walk up. You can see the candles glowing. When we've arrived we've seen people kneeling and praying. And those candles, most of them scented have this beautiful smell. And it's almost soothing for this community and deep sorrow Phil.

MATTINGLEY: Deep sorrow indeed. Kent Fathom was a parent writing an obituary for your child Adrienne Broaddus on the ground for us in Uvalde. I want to turn now to CNN's Paula Reid who has more on the Justice Department's investigation. Paula, everyone's trying to figure out where this goes next? What do we know about how this investigation will actually unfold?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the outset the most important thing is that this is not a criminal investigation. This is effectively an after action review, who was requested by the city's mayor of the Justice Department come in, look at exactly what happened here and produce a report analyzing what went wrong and also establishing the best practices going forward.

Because of course the sad fact is we do expect other active shooter incidents like this at schools. At this point, though, Phil, I mean, the city really needs the credibility of the Justice Department here for them to come in and objectively gather evidence and analyze exactly what happened here?

Now in a statement, the Justice Department said that the goal of its review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day in to identify the lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events.

Justice Department has done similar reviews of how police responded to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino as well as how they responded to the Pulse Nightclub shooting?

[12:05:00] REID: After they analyze all of this evidence, they will produce a report again with those recommendations forward looking recommendations for other law enforcement agencies.

MATTINGLY: Yes, I think it's a great point to point out in the details what this is and what this isn't? But more broadly, I think it's everybody has tried to grapple with the timeline we saw last week, is there a possibility at some point that the officers who chose not to go into the school could be faced with some type of negligence charges, child neglect charges, something along those lines?

REID: Well, at this point, based on the evidence that we have, it's just not clear. Certainly there's always a possibility if during this review, even though it's not a criminal investigation, then cover any potential evidence of criminal conduct.

It's really pass that along to prosecutors, but Phil we know, charging officers, law enforcement officials for things that they do in the course of their official duty, it's a very high bar, which is why those kinds of charges are rare.

Now, we did see in Parkland, we saw that a Broward County Sheriff's Deputy working as a school resource officer he was ultimately charged with child neglect and negligence. But that's a novel case. And there are a lot of legal scholars out there who question whether he actually had a duty to respond whether he should have been criminally charged.

Again, it's a great question. It's an open question at this point in this investigation, though, we're just not there. We don't have all the facts yet.

MATTINGLY: Yes. So much more to come Paula Reid thanks so much and joining me now is Charles Ramsey. He's the Former Washington D.C. Police Chief and Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner. Commissioner Ramsey. I want to start kind of where Paula was, in terms of the timeline here.

I want to pull up the timeline that we've all been poring over in utter disbelief over the course of the last several days. And I think when you look at when the suspect enters the school versus when 911 calls start to come in, you know that there are officers standing outside that are not going into the school, I think the first thing I've been trying to figure out, explain to us how this should work.

You know, does the 911 dispatcher relay these details directly to the police? What are the lines of communication here?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, thanks, Phil. First of all, active shooter training officers are taught that in a situation where you have an active shooter, you don't wait you go in even if it's just one officer. Preferably, it's two, three, even four, to go in and to move toward where the gunman is.

That means even passing up people who may be injured as a result of the shooting; you have to stop the shooter period. You can't wait because while you're waiting, other lives are being lost. People are bleeding to death. And that's what you're trained in an active shooter type scenario.

Now, there are still a lot of unanswered questions in this particular case. You mentioned one, the dispatch, a lot of information was coming into dispatch from some of the kids in the classroom. Was that information being relayed to the on scene commander? I don't know the answer to that.

But that is a big question mark as to why he chose to wait an hour over an hour before making entry into that classroom. It doesn't make any sense. Tactically or just any other way does it make any sense to wait that long? To make entry that's why this investigation is going to be so critical.

MATTINGLY: Yes, and I think one of the reasons I think the horrific reality that everybody has been trying to get their heads around is the possibility that there were still children alive who may not have been when police finally entered and this is what Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez told CNN on Sunday about how he believes that delay of law enforcement costs lives, take a listen.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Did that delay cost lives costs children?

SEN. ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D-TX): I sat down with a parent instead of family yesterday. Mom told me that her child had been shot by one bullet, but through the back through the kidney area, the first responder that they eventually talked to said that their child likely bled out.

In that span of 30 or 40 minutes extra, that little girl might have lived, that little girl might have lived. So absolutely these mistakes may have led to the passing away of these children as well.


MATTINGLY: And again, I think that's kind of the nightmare scenario people are trying to work through right now. Do you believe at this point that the transcripts or the recordings of radio communication and communications with the dispatcher should be released need to be released as people look for transparency?

RAMSEY: Well, I think as much should be released, it can be released without compromising the investigation. I don't know if there was video inside to school or not. I'm personally I think that as much as possible, should be released again without compromising the investigation.

Again, this is a very serious matter. We have to get to the bottom of it. We have to get to the bottom of it very, very quickly to find out what actually took place?


RAMSEY: But as far as the injuries sustained by many of these children, I mean, I don't think people realize just how devastating the injuries from an assault weapon really are. That's an adult; imagine what it must look like in a child.

And so the quicker you get them to a trauma center, the better off you're going to be. In fact, in Philadelphia, just with shootings we have on the street, police don't wait for an ambulance. They put the victim in the backseat of the patrol car and get straight to the hospital, why because people were literally bleeding to death, waiting for an ambulance to arrive. That's how critical seconds count.


RAMSEY: And so you can't wait. You cannot wait.

MATTINGLY: And I think that leads me to my next my last question, which is we know when there was finally a breach of the door, we heard from the same Texas State Senator, that the officers that did enter did it in frustration, not because they received an order. This is what he said.


BASH: Do you know if when they finally decided to go in, was that a decision made by the school police force chief?

GUTIERREZ: What's been made clear to me is that at that point, the CBP team that went in, in frustration said we're going in.

BASH: So that's a no?

GUTIERREZ: That's a no.


MATTINGLY: Commissioner, I cannot get my head around this. But what does it tell you that at least according to this State Senator; the CBP team that went in went in without being told to do so because they were frustrated by how the police were operating on the ground?

RAMSEY: Well, I wish they had done it now earlier, to be honest with you. It does come to a point where you have to do what you have to do. Apparently, whoever it was, it was in charge on the scene. And it's not uncommon. There are a lot of people that cannot make decisions under stress and under pressure.

They should never be in a position where they have to actually on the ground, tactically oversee an operation. And sometimes you don't know that until it's too late. But that's why training is so important to find out who can actually make a decision.

Maybe this person is just somebody who just should never have been there and never been in charge. But thank God, they did make entry eventually. But that should have happened, you know, 50 minutes earlier.

MATTINGLY: Yes, the training playbook is very clear here. Commissioner Charles Ramsey thanks so much, sir.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: All right. Coming up any minute President Biden lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on this Memorial Day. Plus the President talked gun reform this morning after multiple mass shootings, including at Robb Elementary School in Texas.



MATTINGLY: Brand new this morning. President Biden says he has yet to begin negotiations with Republicans on gun reform. You just saw actually pictures of what we're waiting for from the president. He's just arrived at Arlington National Cemetery; he will soon be laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Obviously today is Memorial Day. So we're kind of juggling a couple of things here.

But guys, I have my panel at the table. I'll introduce them in a second. The key note from the president is that he hopes that last week's massacre at the Texas elementary school left 19 children two teacher's dead will motivate some in the GOP to take action. Now the president also recognized there are limits to his presidential power take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The constitution. I can do the things I've done. And then any executive action I can take I'll continue to take. But, I can't outlaw a weapon. I can't change the background. I can't do that. I think there's a realization on the part of rational Republicans and I think McConnell Republicans --? Well, I think there's recognition on the part that they made the case to continue that.


MATTINGLY: Our panel joins me now to share the reporting and insights CNN's Ryan Nobles, POLITICO's Rachael Bade and Cleve Wootson from "The Washington Post". Cleve, I want to start with you here because it was the president's comments about rational Republicans putting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in that category.

John Cornyn was really kind of running point for Republicans in that category as well. What's your sense of things? The President has long said, you know, he's going to be the one to make the fever break, and the Republican Party was going to change with him as president that hasn't necessarily been borne out. The idea that "Rational Republicans" will be coming to the table right now. What's your read on that?

CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I remember seeing him saying we will to those family members yesterday, right? We will get something done. And you know, you probably know all too well, at the reporter me once a follow up how and when? And who are you going to talk to?

He's been talking about since the presidential campaign about how he can unite the country? How he can reach out to Rational Republicans, maybe he used different words. But there's really no real sense coming from the White House of exactly how he's going to do it, or whether he's going to have an active role in it.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And this is active role. First, I actually want to play what you point to us, yesterday, the President was in Uvalde. He was meeting with families. An incredibly difficult moment for any leader any president, President Obama did something similar at Sandy Hook but it was this moment, which you just mentioned, that really stood out to everybody. What's this?

A powerful moment, a poignant moment, and yet, I'm not totally sure it's a moment that will be borne out by reality, particularly when the president also said this morning. He's not had any conversations with Republicans up to this point.

Rachael, my sense is that's intentional. They want to let this breathe a little bit. But they want to give it some space. What's your read on things and talking to your sources?


RACHAEL BADE, POLITICO PLAYBOOK CO-AUTHOR: Well, Biden is in - he's in a tricky spot here. And that, yes, he wants something to happen. And he could potentially use the bully pulpit to try to, you know, shame Congress shame Republicans and actually doing something.

But doing that won't necessarily help given his poll numbers. You know, he's not exactly a popular president right now. We're just a few months out from the midterms. So how much sway does he really have to try to fulfill that promise of you know, we will get something done?

I mean, I know there's a lot of positive talk right now on Capitol Hill, you have people like Senator Murphy from Connecticut, who's been a sort of the number one gun restriction advocate on Capitol Hill sort of leading these talks and reaching out to some Republicans, but they need 10 Republicans on any proposal to pass this on.

And the reality is, you know, a lot of times when these tragedies happen, people spend the next few weeks talking about proposals reforms. And then you know, nothing happens and a person sort of the story moves on, nothing gets done. We've seen it happen over and over again, Phil, you've been on the Hill, you've seen it. So it's really it's an uphill battle for them.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And it's tough. You don't want to be cynical in this moment. And I think the talks are real, I think we have some from Sarah Murphy, but actually want to focus on sound from Dan Crenshaw, who is a Republican from Texas, because this is kind of what Senator Murphy and his Democrats on his side, and even the Republicans that are in the room, that group of nine, they're now negotiating the Senate are now facing on the Republican side of things, watch this.


BASH: Do you expand it? Would you make the universal background checks?

REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Well, no. So people have to understand what universal background checks mean. That means that I can no longer sell a gun to my friend.

BASH: Should you be 21 to buy a gun?

CRENSHAW: Well, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is should 21 be the age that you're an adult? What happens then when we see a 22 year old commit an atrocity? Are we going to raise it again?


MATTINGLY: Ryan, same interview, he also laid out a litany of potential issues, red flag laws, you know, those are one of the primary things that people think is on the table right now. So thread this needle for me, how do you get this done if you're a Republican who wants to do something, and a Democrat who has been wanting to do something?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, Phil, you said, you don't want to be cynical about this process. But having covered this debate for so long, how could you be anything but cynical, and you know, after Sandy Hook, so many of us thought, well, this will be the time that there's some sort of common ground that we discover, that allows some sort of regulation to prevent this tragedy from happening over and over again, and it has happened over and over again.

And so then you have someone like Dan Crenshaw, who I think most people would put in that sensible Republican category that Joe Biden is talking about, obviously, it's a pretty vague term that we can't really nail down on.

And here's a guy who repeatedly asked over and over again, what regulations, what changes are you open to and basically rejected almost every single one of them? So you say you don't want to be cynical. How could you be anything but cynical, because you have a Republican Party that is basically in a situation here, where they do not want to even peek open the door to any type of regulation when it comes to gun laws?

And so it's again, we're just in a space where there, there's just no room for negotiation if you're unwilling to find that common ground.

MATTINGLY: Yes, real quickly --.

BADE: Yes. Just to follow up on whom Dan Crenshaw is? This is a guy who has not been afraid to push back on Donald Trump before a guy who has stood up too. The extremes of his own party gone after Marjorie Taylor Greene he's from a district that he barely won reelection, I mean, a swing district.

And so again, if you can't get someone like that on red flag laws, which is where they're talking on Capitol Hill--

MATTINGLY: Where there's already been - which they did in Florida under then Governor Rick Scott in the wake of Parkland.

BADE: Right and you would think - you would think there would be Republicans - more Republicans comfortable with that but if he's - if he's showing skepticism I mean that just shows the uphill battle right there.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's just going to be fascinating to watch. You know, President Talks about changing the dynamic the Murphy talks about Manchin and more people are interested in this than any time since Sandy Hook and yet post Sandy Hook, nothing happened.

So we shall see. Well, obviously a lot to keep an eye on a lot to keep talking about. And we're still at this point in time waiting for President Biden to lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. We'll be right back.



MATTINGLY: Just moments ago President Biden laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. And we're awaiting the President's remarks honoring the nation's fallen heroes. We'll bring that to you from Arlington National Cemetery live when it happens.

Well, at the same time the country is in mourning the 19 children, two adults killed at a school shooting in Texas or at least 17 others who were wounded, including children. The Washington Post reports that more than 360 kids and adults have been injured by gun violence at school since 1999.

But for the thousands of kids who weren't physically injured there are unseen wounds that will stay with them for years or even a lifetime. And John Woodrow Cox is an Enterprise Reporter for "The Washington Post". He's also the book - the Author of the Book "Children under fire: An American crisis". Now he's reported on the harrowing stories of kids some of them now grown up who are still living with the fear and effects.